With no roads or private cars allowed on the island, hiking is arguably the best and most rewarding way to explore Ilha Grande’s beautiful scenery. There are several hiking trails on Ilha Grande that lead you through dense Atlantic forests full of life and color. Home to several colonies of the endangered howler monkey amongst other unique wildlife, the sounds of the forest alone make for an amazing ambience as you make your way to one of the many gorgeous and secluded beaches on Ilha Grande. Whether you just want to take a break from relaxing on the beach or wanting to explore the entire island, the trails on Ilha Grande are not to be missed.
♦ The Basics for Hiking on Ilha Grande
The best plan of action is to use Vila do Abraão (the largest village on the island) as a starting point. There are numerous trails for you to choose from, with various lengths and degrees of difficulty. If you do plan on doing a more extensive hike, you may want to hire a guide to help you along the way as there have been a few cases of people getting lost in the forest when trying to tackle it on their own. No matter which trail you decide to explore however, the tropical weather makes carrying plenty of water and fluids an absolute must. As Ilha Grande is near the equator, you can also expect an early nightfall so it is highly recommended that you carry a flashlight when planning a late return to your boutique hotel on the island.
♦ Hiking up Pico do Papagaio
The most popular (and most difficult) hike brings you from Vila do Abraão to the iconic Pico do Papagaio (Parrot Peak). The 7 mile (11km) hiking trail is roughly a 10 hour round trip, with a gain of over 3,500+ ft. (1,000m) in altitude. When attempting to hike to the top, it is recommended for non-experienced hikers to bring a guide, as the last half a mile sees your face the steepest section of all, requiring a rope to help you reach the parrot’s peak.
Along the way, you will be treated to a number of unforgettable views of Ilha Grande as you make your way through the lush forest to the top. Don’t forget your camera, as you will not want to miss the several postcard worthy pictures waiting to be taken from one of the trails incredible lookout points. The best is most definitely saved for last, as the view from the top of Parrot’s Peak is one that you’re sure to remember for a lifetime.
♦ Lopes Mendes
For those not up for the challenge of reaching the heights of Parrot’s Peak, there are a number of less challenging hiking trails on Ilha Grande for you to explore. A nice and not so difficult hike see’s you make your way from Vila do Abraão to the world famous Praia Lopes Mendes, widely known as one of the best beaches in all of Brazil. The trail is well marked (named ‘T-10’) and doesn’t require a guide to conquer it.
Taking roughly 3 hours to reach the beach, you will make your way through the forest passing other heavenly beaches such as Praia das Palmas and Praia dos Mangues (both well worth a visit) before arriving at the isolated white sand beach of Lopes Mendes. Upon arrival, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy this spectacular world renowned island paradise.